MediaPortal Install Guide0. Introduction and pre-requisites
MediaPortal is an open-source and free full-fledged HTPC front-end. It does everything you can ask for in a media center: video playback, music playback, photo viewing, weather, TV tuning and recording, etc. It has wide community support and thanks to it's excellent plug-in and skinning framework, there are lots of community-developed extensions you can pick and choose to make it your own. It is far more configurable than Windows Media Center, and it works out-of-the-box with the MCE remote. And because it provides so much more configuration some find it a daunting task to install and configure. Therefore, this guide will help alleviate some of that burden and help get a MediaPortal installation up & running. This guide is not intended to replace the wonderful MediaPortal documentation
, but rather to introduce the AVS community to MediaPortal and provide a quick and easy set-up guide. If you need more details on configuration, TV tuning, etc. than what is provided below, then please visit: MediaPortal Wiki
or MediaPortal Community Forums
Before continuing, I would recommend you start with a clean system that has no decoders already installed and especially no decoder "packs". Ideally, that would mean a fresh install of Windows XP or Vista (preferred) with only the absolute necessary drivers and some essential software (e.g. Firefox).1. Update system software
To ensure stability of your system, it's a good idea to keep it up to date with the latest drivers and system software.
2. Install recommended decoders
- Windows Updates: Run Windows Update and install the essential and recommended updates. Especially the "reliability" or "compatibility" packs. If you don't already have it, then install the latest service pack for your OS (SP2 for Vista, SP3 for XP).
- Update your DirectX End-user Runtime: Usually the one that comes with Vista is rather outdated. Get the latest here: DirectX End-user Runtime
Before installing MediaPortal itself, it's a good idea to install and set up some of the essential and recommended decoders:
3. Install & configure MediaPortal, StreamedMP skin, TvSeries plugin, and MovingPictures plugin
- Haali Media Splitter: The de facto video file parser. Direct download link: Haali Media Splitter.
- ffdshow: Download the latest and greatest build from here: ffdshow SVN builds, e.g. ffdshow_rev2405_20081201_clsid.exe. Run the installer to install and configure the video and audio decoders.
- AC3Filter: For those that use SPDIF out on your systems, this is the best-performing audio decoder. Get it here: AC3Filter. Download and run the installer. Once it's installed, run it's configuration (in your Start Menu) and enable the "Use SPDIF" checkbox if you plan to pass-through all AC3 and DTS to your receiver.
- MPC Video Decoder: The best, free DXVA-capable H.264/AVC/VC-1 decoder. Direct download link to version 1.2.908.0: MPC Video Decoder.
- Download the zip file to a safe location.
- Create the following folder under your Program Files: C:\\Program Files\\MPCVideoDecoder.
- From the zip file you downloaded extract MPCVideoDec.ax to C:\\Program Files\\MPCVideoDecoder.
- From the Start menu select Run and type in the following command: regsvr32 "C:\\Program Files\\MPCVideoDecoder\\MPCVideoDec.ax". You should get a pop-up message telling you the filter/file was registered successfully. That means the decoder is installed and registered on your system.
- Now that the decoder is registered on your system it has to be configured for DXVA. Get RadLight Filter Manager here: RadLight Filter Manager. Run it, and under DirectShow Filters select "MPC - Video decoder" and hit the Property Page button. Now in MPC Video Decoder's properties, go to the Codecs tab and enable all of the check boxes, particularly "H.264/AVC (DXVA)" and "VC1 (DXVA)".
- If you care for subtitles, you may want to install VsFilter (current version is 2.37) and set Haali Media Splitter to "Autoload VSFilter" but be warned that this breaks hardware acceleration (DXVA) of H.264/AVC/VC-1 video. Or you can try this patch which incorporates the MPC subtitle engine and allows subtitles without breaking hardware acceleration: Integration of MPC-HC subtitle's engine.
- CoreAVC, Cyberlink PowerDVD 7/8 are alternative H.264/AVC/VC-1 codecs worth installing and testing, but neither are free and CoreAVC does not support hardware acceleration (purely a software decoder, good for less powerful CPUs and those with no GPU hardware acceleration capabilities).
This is it! Time to install and configure MediaPortal itself.
That's it, you're pretty much done and should have MediaPortal up and running!
- Download and install the latest MediaPortal (currently 1.0.2): The latest version of MediaPortal can always be found here: MediaPortal installer. Download the installer and run it. I recommend doing an Advanced installation, and NOT touching the default installation path (lots of plugins and skins seem to rely on this path and there's no guarantee things will work if you change the default installation path). If you have a TV tuner card and plan to use MediaPortal to watch TV, then select "Yes" when prompted for that. This will install the TvServer and will require you install MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server. I won't cover TV tuning at this point. At the end of the MediaPortal installation, choose not to run the configuration tool right away. We'll configure MediaPortal a little later on.
- Download and install the latest StreamedMP skin (currently Beta v0.8.448): The latest installer for the StreamedMP skin can be found here: StreamedMP skin installer. Download and run the installer. When prompted to select the features to install make sure "MovingPictures", "TvSeries" and "RSS" plugins are selected (I just leave all the default settings). When prompted to choose the layout for TvSeries or MovingPictures, I like to go with the "Fan art oriented" ones, but the choice is yours. Note: If you previously had an older version of StreamedMP installed then you will have to uninstall it before installing this latest version (make sure to back-up any changes/modification you've made to the skin and porting them back in manually once the new version is installed).
- Configure MediaPortal: From the Start Menu (or Desktop) shortcut launch MediaPortal Configuration. Choose "Advanced settings" and enable the "Don't ask again" checkbox and press the Ok button. You'll now be prompted with all of the possible configuration options. I'll try to cover each section one at a time to make things a little clearer:
- General: Here I enable the following options: Start with basic home screen; Start MediaPortal in fullscreen mode; Use alternative fullscreen Splashscreen; Keep MediaPortal always on top; Autostart MediaPortal on Windows startup; Hide file extensions like .mp3, .avi, .mpg,...; Enable animations / transitions; Allow S3 standby although wake up devices are present. I also like to set the Log verbosity (logging level) to Warning (for performance reasons). Sub-sections:
- Skin: Choose StreamedMP and enable the "Use string prefixes (e.g. TV = My TV)" check box.
- Watchdog: Usually enabled by default, so just turn it off. Good for posting logs to the MediaPortal forums for testing but not needed for general use.
- Daemon Tools: If you have Daemon Tools installed point MediaPortal to it here for mounting ISO files.
- Movies: Set default zoom mode to Normal and choose the Allowed Zoom Modes as you please. Sub-sections:
- Movie Folders & Database: Changing this is not absolutely necessary since we'll be using the MovingPictures plug-in for all of our movies, but feel free to add any folders here and do a file scan to fill the database.
- Movie Player: Set the following decoders: MPEG-2 video decoder: ffdshow Video Decoder; H.264 video decoder: MPC - Video decoder; Audio decoder: AC3Filter (or ffdshow if not doing SPDIF pass-through); Audio renderer: Choose your audio/sound device from this list (preferable something pre-pended with "DirectSound:").
- Movie Extensions: Add any movie extensions here that are not already listed.
- DVD, Television, Radio, Music, Pictures: I won't cover these configuration sections yet (especially since most of these sections are quite self-explanatory).
- Remote: Choose your remote of choice here. If you're using the MCE remote, then simply enable the "Use Microsoft MCE remote or keyboard" checkbox and everything will work great out-of-the-box.
- Weather: Add your cities of choice here. Your default city will be the one at the top of the list.
- DirectShow Filter Control:
- Video Renderer Settings: Choose Enhanced Video Renderer if you're on Vista or XP with .NET 3.0 Framework.
- Configure the MovingPictures plugin: Launch MediaPortal Configuration and choose the Plugins section in the left-hand pane. You'll see all your plugins listed on the right-hand side. Under "Window Plugins", right-click on "Moving Pictures" and choose "Configuration":
- Movie Importer tab: Press the "+" button and one or more paths where you store your videos/movies. MovingPictures will automatically fetch all the movie details online and show a list of all the movies it managed to match in the Media Importer sub-section. Double-check any movies it failed to find an exact match for (indicated by a red dot) and manually choose the right movie and press the green check mark button.
- Movie Manager tab: Here you can edit individual movies imported by MovingPictures, choose cover art, change the sort order of movies, etc.
- Advanced Settings tab: There are a whole slew of settings here that I won't cover here. Fiddle with them as you desire.
- Configure the TvSeries plugin: Launch MediaPortal Configuration and choose the Plugins section in the left-hand pane. You'll see all your plugins listed on the right-hand side. Under "Window Plugins", right-click on "MP-TV Series" and choose "Configuration":
- Import Settings tab: Add the location of your TV episodes/series here under Import Paths. Add or edit simple or regular expression string matching under Parsing Expressions. Run a Parsing Test to see how many of your episodes match successfully. When you're satisfied with the Parsing Test results, press the Start Import button at the bottom. Some options worth enabling under Online Data Sync include: Automatically choose Series when only one exact match is found online; Download Series Posters instead of Banners; Watch my import folders for changes automatically.
- MediaPortal Display Control tab: Under Series View Settings choose Graphical format and enable the "Sort Series using the Sort Name instead of the Pretty Name" checkbox. Under Season View Settings choose Graphical format. Under Logo Configuration click the Import... hyperlink and browse to C:\\Program Files\\Team MediaPortal\\MediaPortal\\skin\\StreamedMP and select the StreamedMP.logoRules file.
- Configure the RSS plugin: Launch MediaPortal Configuration and choose the Plugins section in the left-hand pane. You'll see all your plugins listed on the right-hand side. Under "Process Plugins", right-click on "MP-RSS Ticker" and choose "Configuration":
- RSS Ticker settings section: Enable the "RSS Ticker enabled" checkbox; enter your favorite RSS feed (e.g. http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_mostpopular.rss); leave items at 10; leave separator as "::"; enable the "Auto refresh enabled" checkbox.
- Weather settings section: Enable the "Weather enabled" checkbox; enable the "Auto refresh enabled" checkbox.
At this point, your MediaPortal set up should be up and running and should look like the screenshots below. If you run into issues, or want to explore further (e.g. TV tuning), then visit the MediaPortal forums where there is excellent support and help from the MP community: MediaPortal Community Forums
Good luck folks!Home screen/main menu - "Watch Movies"Home screen/main menu - "Watch A Blu-Ray"TV SeriesMoving Pictures - List ViewMoving Pictures - Thumbnail ViewOn-screen display during video playbackWeather